To Honor My Father: Constructive Living Poem

This morning, I lit a Yahrzeit Candle in memory of my father, Alexander I. Newman. 35 years ago on March 30, 1977 my father passed away from coronary heart disease that he dealt with for over 20 years. He was 4 weeks short of his 74th birthday. At the time, I was a 32 year woman, daughter, wife and mother of 2 young sons.

I still remember a disturbing visual…the Rock of Gibraltar sinking in to the Mediteranean Sea when I received the phone call that my  father was in the hospital. I emotionally knew he had passed away, because I felt a huge rock of grief sinking into my heart.

My father was an accomplished mechanical engineer who had developed 26 patents for laboratory equipment. Not only did he build a loving family and network of friends, he and my mother built Lab-Line Instruments, Inc, a successful laboratory instrument business. My father also was the building chairman and first president of West Suburban Har Zion Temple, in River Forest, IL  and Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, IL.

My father, was a Green Brainer, who was a voracious reader and thrived on solving problems. However, he also was Blue Brainer who loved poetry.

To father’s his memory and how he lived his live, I wanted to share his favorite poem, because is speaks to how he lived and constructed his life.


I stood on the streets of a busy town, Watching men tearing a building down.

With a ho, heave ho, and a lusty yell, They swung a beam – and a side wall fell!

I asked a foreman of the crew,  “Are those men as skilled as those

You’d hire if you wanted to build?”

“Ah, no,” he said. “No, indeed, Just common labor is all I need.

I can tear down as much in a day or two As it would take skilled men a year to do.”

And then I thought as I went on my way, Just which of these two roles am I trying to play?

Have I walked life’s road – with care; Measuring each deed with rule and square,

Or am I one of those who roams the town, Content with the labor of – tearing down!


Do you live your life constructively?

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  1. Laurie Buchanan on March 31, 2012 at 6:31 am

    Sheila – Your father sounds like he was an amazing man — positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing. And it’s obvious that you’re a “chip off the old block.”

    • Old George on March 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm

      You are kind of right in saying Sheila was a “chip off the old block.”
      The only difference is Sheila’s much-much prettier 🙂

      I knew the Papa–not only was he most intelligent, but he had a great sense of humor! I would follow him around and watch as he would stick his foot in elevator doors as they were closing. The doors would reverse course and open, then he would repeat the feat until other elevator occupants started yelling at him to stop.
      I’ve followed in his footsteps and developed a couple of tricks I’d love to demonstrate to Alexander I.. I’m sure he would enjoy some of my antics that really shouldn’t go into print.
      I love him too, and his memory burns fresh in my mind.

      • sheila on April 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

        Good morning, My Favorite Cousin George.
        Thank you for your sweet comments about being “much-much prettier” than my “Papa”, your Uncle Al.
        You comments about “AIN”, his personalty, sense of humor and intelligence hit the bull’s eye.
        Yes, you inherited the “Quirky Newman Sense of Humor”!
        He did love you, as I do and I it makes my heart sing to know his memory burns fresh in your mind, as well as mine.
        It’s “love”ly to know those exceptional people are not forgotten!!

  2. Jeff on March 31, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Your father sounds like the kind of man who would be very proud of you.

  3. admin on April 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks for the comment

  4. sheila on April 3, 2012 at 8:04 am


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